To give you an idea of how well matched the playoffs were in LJYB last week, at one point on Wednesday afternoon, all three games being played on the Pony, Mustang and Pinto fields went into extra innings — and two of them were championship games. The stands were charged, the players felt the pressure and a couple of games had walk-off endings.
It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Morgan Stanley manhandled Voices for Children 16-6 in the first semifinal game in Mustang. In the other semifinal game, Cass Street was down 4-2 to Care Drugs Pharmacy in the bottom of the sixth in a tense back-and-forth game that included a number of close calls.
With one out and two runners on base, Kai Leach hit a slicing drive over the 1st baseman’s head to tie the game at 4-4. He subsequently stole third and in what appeared to be a base running blunder, he gets caught off the bag by pitcher Conner Noon, forcing him to break for home where he slid safely under the tag to win the game, 5-4.
The Mustang championship game between undefeated Morgan Stanley and No. 2 seed Cass Street was a real barn burner, with a number of lead changes through five innings. With the game tied 6-6 in the top of the sixth inning with closer Blaise Gimber on the hill with two outs and two strikes on the batter, Tate Musante boldly steals home to take a 7-6 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Gimber steals home on a passed ball to tie the game. With Axel Youngdale representing the winning run at third base, Morgan Stanley fails to execute a squeeze bunt and Carsten Fehlan tags him out at home plate to send the game into extra innings. Cass Street poured on the offense in the top of the seventh, scoring five runs off of Evan Brown in relief to make it 12-7.
Morgan Stanley has their last at bats and the umpire warns both benches that he will call the game due to darkness in 10 minutes, which would revert the score back to a 7-7 tie. Cole Rehm is working as fast as he can on the mound, but balks in a run.
Another run comes across on a passed ball. With two outs, Kai Leach make a running catch on a line drive to the fence to end the game 12-9. Cass Street — 2011 Mustang Champions!
The action on the Pinto field was just as close. In the first semifinal game, Jeff Lang Homes out-slugged Scoma Pediatric Dentistry 20-15. In the second semifinal game, Mitch’s Surf Shop and Harry’s Coffee Shop were knotted at 5-5 for the first few innings until Mitch’s broke the game open with 10 unanswered runs. Harry’s battled back but Mitch’s matched them again, advancing to the Championship game with an impressive 20-15 final. Mitch’s also had to beat No. 2 seed Willis Allen in the quarterfinals as part of their unlikely march into the championship game.For the Pinto Championship, underdog seventh seed Mitch’s Surf Shop faced No. 1 seed Jeff Lang Homes Aviators, who had the best record through the regular season. Mitch’s jumped out to an early seven run lead before it tightened up at 17-12 after five innings. The offensive punch of the Aviators came through in the top of the sixth, led by a spectacular two-run homer — a frozen rope — by Tyler Blackburn, followed by a ground-rule double by Jack Boynton, sending the game into extra innings. Coach Bo Solis brought his team together to re-group their solid defense, which apparently worked as the Aviators went scoreless in the top of the seventh. In the bottom half of the frame, Mitch’s put together a rally worthy of ESPN coverage, capped by a walk-off double by Devin Bale that scored Adam Gans for an 18-17 victory.
Mitch’s Surf Shop — 2011 Pinto Champions!
For the family and friends who watched the championship games last Wednesday, it was arguably the most exciting and entertaining baseball in recent memory.
Congratulations to all of the players and coaches who enjoyed an outstanding season.
The only playoff games still being played are in the Pony division and we will have a complete report on their tournament next week.
—Tom Murphy, LJYB